'Independent Committee' Slaps Wrist of New WSJ Editor

23 May 2008

The 'Special Committee' responsible for safeguarding the Wall Street Journal's editorial integrity yesterday delivered a draconian 'tsssk' to Dow Jones ceo Les Hinton (pictured) and WSJ publisher-cum-editorial pinch-hitter Robert Thomson, who earlier this week usurped the role of managing editor.

Murdoch's two lieutenants were reprimanded by the committee for failing to consult it before engineering the departure of former WSJ editorial incumbent Marcus Brauchli.

The committee declared itself "concerned" about the role played in Brauchli's departure by Thomson, a former editor of NewsCorp's UK title The Times, who moved to New York in December to become publisher of Dow Jones. 

Despite which the dentally-disadvantaged watchdog hailed Thomson as an "excellent choice" for the job, before delivering its token reprimand.

"The committee has satisfied itself that issues of editorial integrity – our primary concern – didn't play a role in this case; but the process [of removing Brauchli] which involved Mr Thomson and Les Hinton, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, was unacceptable," the body ruled.

All, however, was forgiven after Hinton issued a statement apologising to the committee.

The so-called 'Special Committee' is an archetypal Murdoch masterstroke, a sop thrown to members of the Bancroft family who had publicly agonized over the paper's editorial integrity under NewsCorp before handing over their shares at a healthy premium over the [then] market rate.

There has been little reference in the mainstream media as to the composition of this 'Special Committee', although several blogs and websites concerned with press freedom, have revealed their identities.

Its membership includes retired Associated Press ceo Louis Boccardi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, former Tribune Publishing president Jack Fuller, ex-Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn (Repulican-Washington state), and one-time Detroit News columnist Thomas Bray.

Among which happy band, observers would be hard pushed to identify a single member whose political and commercial outlook is unaligned with that of their philanthropic mentor. 

The committe meets around four times a year, for which onerous chore each member receives $100,000 annually. Plus bus fares.

Data sourced from Guardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff